Making Cold Calls To Offer Your Services

A common misconception among many technical writers is that the only jobs available are those posted on job boards and company websites. The truth is that many companies already have a pool of freelance technical writers that they call upon when they happen to need an annual report or abstract. These companies did not advertise for these writers; the writers came to them. Cold calling is when you contact a business to offer your services without being asked or encouraged by that business to do so, and it's a technique many technical writers have used to secure more clients. The term "cold call" will be used in this article, but keep in mind you can also contact companies through email as well.

  1. Know What You're Offering: One of the worst things you can do when making a cold call is say something along the lines of, "I'm a writer. Do you need anything done?" When you contact any company, be prepared to tell them what specific services you offer and how they can benefit the organization. For example, you can tell the individual you contact that you specialize in annual reports and white papers. You can then explain how these documents can improve customer relations and increase shareholder investments. Remember, it's all about what you can do for your client.
  2. Know Who You're Contacting: You don't have to learn a company's entire history before you make a cold call, but having a general idea of what they do and what they're about is a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. Also, try to find out the name of the person you want to get in touch with. Asking for Mr. Brooks when you telephone a corporation will always sound much better than asking to speak with "the person who is in charge of hiring freelance technical writers."
  3. Be Assertive, But Not Overbearing: You want to come across as confident and assertive, but the last thing you want to be is aggressive or annoying. After you've made your cold call, you might choose to send a brief follow-up if you haven't heard from the company, but you should probably stop there. Making incessant phone calls or sending daily emails will quickly become annoying, particularly if the company has made it clear that they have no need for technical writers. Remember, there's a fine line between persistence and harassment. It may be months before a company actually needs a freelance technical writer, so make your cold call, follow up once, and be patient.
  4. Offer to Send More Information: Once you've made your sales pitch and told the company how you can benefit them, offer to send more information. Before any company seriously considers hiring you, they'll probably want to see a portfolio or at least a few samples, so offer to send them through email. If the person agrees to receive this information, it's a great sign that your cold call might just land you a future gig.

Last Updated: 05/05/2014